Markets Right Now: Hint of slower rate hikes sets off rally

NEW YORK — The latest on developments in financial markets (all times local):

1:33 p.m.

Stocks are moving sharply higher after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggested the central bank might consider a pause in its interest rate hikes next year.

Powell, in a speech in New York on Wednesday, said interest rates appear to be just below the level the Fed calls "neutral," where they neither stimulate growth nor impede it. In October, he said rates were still well below neutral.

The prospect of slower interest rate increases was well received on Wall Street.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 497 points, or 2 percent, to 25,245 in afternoon trading. It more than doubled its gains after Powell made his remarks.

The S&P 500 index rose 47 points, or 1.8 percent, to 2,729.

The Nasdaq composite climbed 157 points, or 2.2 percent, to 7,240.

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11:45 a.m.

U.S. stock indexes are rising as software maker Salesforce leads a rally in technology companies.

Salesforce jumped 4.3 percent in midday trading Wednesday after reporting earnings that were much higher than analysts expected.

Health care stocks were also higher. UnitedHealth Group rose 2.6 percent.

Tiffany plunged 12.1 percent after the jewelry seller said tourists from China pulled back on spending in the latest quarter.

The S&P 500 index rose 10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,692.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 192 points, or 0.8 percent, to 24,939. The Nasdaq composite climbed 32 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,113.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.07 percent.

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9:35 a.m.

Stocks are opening higher on Wall Street, led by solid gains in big technology and health care companies.

Apple added 1.2 percent in early trading Wednesday and health insurer UnitedHealth Group rose 1.8 percent.

Software maker Salesforce.com jumped 6.5 percent after reporting a big beat in earnings.

Tiffany plunged 9.5 percent after saying Chinese tourists weren't spending as much in its stores.

The S&P 500 index rose 12 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,695.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 165 points, or 0.7 percent, to 24,905. The Nasdaq composite climbed 46 points, or 0.7 percent, to 7,128.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.06 percent.

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